Later Vedic Age (1000-600 BC)
During the later Vedic Age, far reaching changes and development took place in the religious, social, economical and political. This was the period when the later samhitas, Samaveda, Yajurveda, and the Atharvaveda were composed, along with the Brahmans, Aranyakas and the Upanishads. The age is also known as PGW iron phase.
During the later Vedic Period, the Aryans are said to have moved into Eastward and Southward areas. The literature of this period contains references about the Arabian Sea, the Vindhyan range and the Northern plains of the Ganga-Yamuna Doab. A study of the literature of the period reveals that moving from Punjab, the Aryans settled in Delhi and the Upper Gangetic Doab.
Moving eastwards, they habituated the Awadh region and moving further east, they entered into Bihar. The Eastward march of the Aryans was made possible by the use of fire and implements of iron. With the help of these two, they were able to clear thick forests, kill wild animals and break the soil.
The Story of Agni and Videha Madhava moving eastwards, as narrated in the Satapatha Brahmana, give a proof of the Eastward march. In this process, the Janas transformed into Janapadas. The later Vedas give three broad divisions of India i.e. the Aryavarta (Northern India), The Madhyadesa (Central India) and the Dakshina Patha (Southern India).
Reiterating, the first change so observed in the political milieu was the transformation of the Rigvedic people into the Janapada (meaning, the area where the tribe settled). The Rajan was no more merely involved in cattle raids and inturn became the protector of the territory of the tribesmen. The rajanyas of the Rigvedic age now became the Kshatriyas, who held power over the territories. What formed the very reason of the wars (earlier, cattle) also underwent a change, with the acquisition of land now becoming an important element. Iron weapons aided somewhere in their increased efficiency.
In later Vedic period, Rigvedic popular assemblies lost their importance and royal power increased at their cost. The Vidhata completely disappeared. The Sabha and Samiti continued to hold the ground but their character changed. The Sabha became more important than the samiti. They came to be dominated by the chiefs and the rich nobles. Women were not allowed to attend the Sabha and were now dominated by the Nobles and the Brahmans.
The formation of bigger kingdom made the chief or the king more powerful. Princes or chiefs ruled tribes, but the dominant tribe gave their names to the territories, which might be inhabited by tribes other than their own. In the beginning, each area was named after the tribe which settled there first. At first Panchala was the name of the people and then it became the name of a region. The term Rashtra, which mean territory, first appeared in this period.
Later Vedic Economy
There was a whopping transformation in the later Vedic Age, from pastoralism to agriculture, on which a great stress begun to be given. This also led to a marked increase in economic production and was made possible by the iron aided geographical expansion in the later Vedic period. Mixed-farming comprising both cultivation and herding, became the occupational norm. Land-clearing began to be done by the socketed iron-axe (one found at Noh), earlier which was merely fire aided.
The Rig-Veda too lends evidences attesting the growing significance of agriculture, by giving references to operations namely sowing, cutting, threshing, winnowing etc. References are made to oxen driven ploughs as well. An iron plough-share has been found at Jakhera. Apart from the Rigvedic crops Yava (Barley) Vrihi (rice), Godhuma (wheat) and pulses-Mudga (Moong), Mass (urad), Yamaka (millet) and Tila (sesame) were also grown and were attested by the texts. Sugarcane was also known.
The patrilineal household or the girha was now the basic unit of Agriculture production, with the grahapati emerging as the de facto owner of the land. Apart from the family members, land was cultivated with the help of the Shudras and the slaves. The vaisya were the producing class and the Kshatriyas and the Brahman (priests) depended on them for their subsistence.
Bali became less voluntary and was at times even extracted by force, partly due to the reduced importance of earning cattle raids and partly since the givers (Vaisyas) produced a certain surplus. The Vaisyas had to give the same, so to save their cultivated lands.
An increase in sacrifices has also been attested to, especially of the rajasuya, the vajapeya and the ashvamedha, implying both growing expenditure and also the huge concentration of wealth in the hands of the Brahman and the rajanyas (now the Kshatriyas). Various crafts too developed, much due to the coming of iron in this period.
That metallurgy was important has been confirmed by the repeated references to Krsnayas (syamasa), to smelters and smiths, and also from the archaeological evidences from the PGW sites (comprising iron weapons and tools etc). Earlier Rigvedic crafts and weaving continued. Jewellery was manufactured. The manufacture of glass was known.
That trade was developed to some extent, has been corroborated from the increased references to the sea. Frequent references are also made to the niska a gold ornament, along with the satamana a weight of Gold/ silver, indicating their usage as mediums of exchange.
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